Starting this school year, livestreaming on the IHSAA Champions Network presented by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance via IHSAAtv.org will be the only way to view IHSAA State Finals broadcasts – including football and boys and girls basketball.
For the past decade, Bally Sports Indiana (formerly Fox Sports Indiana) has been the television home for the state finals. However, Diamond Sports Group – which owns 19 regional sports networks, including Bally Sports Indiana – filed for bankruptcy this past March.
In June, according to IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Chris Kaufman, Bally Sports Indiana informed the organization that the partnership would end.
“They called and said they weren’t allowed to renew the contract with us,” Kaufman said. “It was an amicable parting and, all in all, Bally was a great partner. We enjoyed working with them and we will stay in touch.”
This means, at least for now, IHSAAtv.org will be the exclusive platform for the state finals and will be behind a paywall.
“The state finals have been on IHSAAtv.org for many years now,” said Heath Shanahan, IHSAA’s Director of Broadcasting/Executive Producer. “It’s been a destination website that people hit, not just for the state finals, but the entire tournament and regular season.
“We decided this is a great release point, except for golf, tennis and Unified sports. Those broadcasts will remain free to view.”
To see state finals events, viewers will need to download the free IHSAAtv app to their devices (e.g., a computer, phone or OTT/television appliance device) or visit IHSAAtv.org. The prices to view state finals contests will be the same as buying a ticket at the venue: generally $15 per game or $20 for an all-access pass. The IHSAAtv OTT app is available for Roku, Firestick, Apple TV, and Android TV devices allowing fans to watch in high definition on their televisions.
“We are working to make this as easy as possible for fans,” Shanahan said. “Fans can navigate to on site, click the link and follow the steps. It’s no different than getting on a phone and going to any app or website.”
Kaufman and Shanahan said IHSAA realizes there will be pushback due to a natural resistance to streaming content previously available on certain television packages.
“It can be difficult for some who aren’t technologically savvy, but that’s an issue we can’t solve alone,” Kaufman said. “The overall climate of change in television has helped as people are seeing they will get their TV (content) differently. But whether you watched on (cable) television or on a stream (streaming platform), you are paying for it.”
“With Bally,” Shanahan added, “it was rolled into your cable bill.”
Kaufman also said the quality of the production won’t change.
Since 2010, IHSAAtv.org has delivered streaming content. Shanahan said the site currently has 150 schools from across the state who contribute to games on the network, along with 30-plus independent broadcasters.
“On a recent Friday night, we had 95 football games being streamed,” Shanahan said.
While the state finals and the semistate contests are pay-per-view, the sectional and regional rounds of each state tournament – will remain free to view.
Also, the IHSAA Champions Radio Network, supported by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, will not be impacted. In fact, that network added seven more stations this year, bringing the total to 79.
“Television is rapidly changing,” Shanahan said, “and linear TV isn’t close to what it was even five years ago. The pandemic put an importance on livestreaming. This is the future and we’ve been preparing ourselves for it for several years.”
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